Metro Aberdeen’s Ilona Kriauzaite has been inspired to run to the top of every Munro after reading about the remarkable exploits of Bathgate hill walker Hazel Strachan.
A Munro is a Scottish hill with a summit of more than 3,000ft (915m). The name comes from Hugh Munro, who in 1891 was the first person to compile a list of these summits.
There are now 282 defined Munros and a couple of years ago Strachan completed her 10th round of all of these hills. It has taken her 20 years to do so.
That’s a record for a woman, while the men’s record of 15 rounds is held by Carnethy hill running club member Steve Fallon.
Kriauzaite has been giving herself a series of running challenges since the first coronavirus lockdown last March.
Then, once travel restrictions were relaxed, she ran up 18 of the highest hills within reasonable travel reach of the city.
She ended up running more than 400k and climbing 14,000 metres by tackling the likes of Lochnagar, Mount Keen, Glas Maol and Beinn a Bhuird.
Kriauzaite even cycled to and from some of the hills to add a further 160k to the total distance covered.
She said: “It was a good challenge and I enjoyed it. Glas Maol was probably my favourite because of the views I got.
“Morven was the toughest hill as it was foggy and windy on the top. I was on my own and it was difficult to navigate. Also, it was one of the hills I cycled to.”
Kriauzaite aims to run 10-Munro circuits to speed up drive to 282
Twelve of the 18 hills Kriauzaite conquered are Munros, but to match just one of Strachan’s rounds she’ll need to complete an additional 270.
She said: “Hazel Strachan’s record is very impressive. I don’t know how she recorded it all.
“My plan, once lockdown is hopefully eased later in the year, is to do a number of Munro circuits.
“I will try to run maybe 10 in one day, starting with the Munros at Glenshee. By doing it that way I hope to complete all 282, although it will take quite a long time especially with the uncertainty around the pandemic.”
Kriauzaite also aims to take part in a series of virtual races between now and the European Masters Athletics mountain and trail running championships scheduled to take place at Val Tramontina in north-east Italy at the end of May.
As part of the build-up to the championships, five virtual races are being held for athletes to tackle in their local areas. Prizes will be awarded to the national winners of each run.
The series starts this month with a 5km hill run. That’s followed by a 10k in February and April, a 15k in March and another 5k in May.
Kriauzaite said: “I’ll go for these to keep me occupied and if it goes well I’d like to qualify for the masters championships.
“I think I’ll do my first virtual run at Brimmond Hill, but I’ll need to check out the course first of all.
“Over the last few months I’ve done most of the scottishathletics virtual events and I managed to qualify for the short course cross-country championships, but the event was cancelled because of lockdown restrictions.”